Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hollow (short film that recently played the Cleveland International Film Festival)

Review by Bob Ignizio
Upon discovering that she is pregnant, heroin addict Alice (Morven Christie) sees it as some kind of sign. She tells her boyfriend and fellow junkie Marcus (Martin McCann) that this was meant to be, the implication being that the pregnancy will be all the motivation the couple need to kick their habits. Alice is so sure of herself that she bristles at the idea of going through a gradual treatment program, or the notion that other alternatives need to be considered in the event she doesn't follow through.

There are at this point a considerable number of films about junkies trying to clean up and overcome their addictions, and a smaller though still significant subset in which pregnancy further complicates matters. As well intentioned as such films generally are, there's always the risk that they will feel like some high school drug scare film or descend into dull preachiness. There's also the problem that there's really only two ways this story can go. The addict goes through hell trying to clean up, usually with a relapse or two along the way, and either comes out better on the other side, or winds up dead.

Interesting characters that we're genuinely invested in can add some freshness and interest to the familiar tale, as can a strong visual style. Director/co-writer Rob Sorrenti comes through on the latter, and there are a number of good shots in the film. Unfortunately, the two main characters never really come alive as actual people. That's by no means the fault of the lead actors, both of whom do solid work with what they're given. But the script focuses almost entirely on the addiction and attempts overcome it, never letting us get to know or care about this couple as human beings. To be sure, the situation itself is heart rending, but that only gets you so far. Perhaps as a feature with more room to develop the characters this would have worked better, but in its present form it just didn't grab me. 2 out of 4 stars.

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